Isle of Man Business Network | News
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Team Isle of Man Business Network (Team IOMBN) has spent the summer supporting a number of local community and environmental initiatives, having secured UNESCO Biosphere Partner status earlier this year.

In June, Team IOMBN supported the Parish Walk as thousands of brave walkers tackled the 85 mile course. Those who made it to Bishopscourt were met by volunteers on the IOMBN stand where they were handed a variety of refreshments and received a wealth of encouragement.

Almost 100 individuals from across the Island also signed up to take part in the Isle of Man Business Network Big Beach Clean with Beach Buddies in August. The collective effort, which took place at Scarlett Beach in Castletown, saw over 15 bags of plastic and discarded rubbish collected. For what on the surface appeared to be an immaculate beauty spot, closer inspection revealed that micro‐plastics and nurdles had found their way up the shoreline. Whilst not visually as detracting, these micro‐plastics pose a greater threat to our local wildlife and migrating populations.

Team IOMBN also joined together earlier this month for the annual End2End Walk to help nearly 150 walkers stay hydrated and refreshed as they passed the IOMBN stand on Peel Promenade during the 40‐mile race.

The events brought together people from a range of business backgrounds as they joined in with Team IOMBN’s community initiatives, which is what the Team IOMBN programme was designed to do.

Team IOMBN provides sole traders and small businesses with a platform to get involved in team events where they may not be able to garner a full complement from within their own organisation.

Networking goes beyond the boardroom and the core principle of IOMBN is founded on creating an environment for business networking. Team IOMBN provides the perfect outlet to give back whilst adding value to our members and broader business community.

Chair of the Isle of Man Business Network, Dearbhla Doyle, said:

‘We’ve seen some fantastic interest in our community events this summer and it’s been great to have so many people wanting to get involved. One of the Isle of Man Business Network’s key aims is to encourage and enable our members to meet likeminded people and to expand their network. These events have been really informal and allowed people to get to know one another in a less formal environment than some of our other events. They’ve also enabled us to give something back to our community and we’re already looking forward to organising our next set of community events.’

‘The Isle of Man’s UNESCO Biosphere status is a valuable accolade for us as an Island and we’re proud to have become a Biosphere Partner earlier this year. These events have helped us to support our Biosphere Partner pledge where we’ve engaged with our local community to make a positive impact on our environment.’

The Isle of Man Business Network launched Team IOMBN in May 2016 to connect with the local communities that enable local businesses and individuals, to flourish and inspire extracurricular teamwork to form a bond between Business Network members beyond the Boardroom by facilitating participation in local sporting, community and cultural events.

The Isle of Man Business Network’s Annual General Meeting saw a change in the leadership team with existing Chairman Katie Nicholson of Bridge Angel Network assuming the role of President and Vice Chairman Dearbhla Doyle of Microgaming graduating to Chairman for the April 2019 to March 2020 term, with Head of Marketing Alex Wilson of Bold Consultancy joining the leadership team as Vice Chairman.

Under Katie’s stewardship, the Isle of Man Business Network has put on 12 events over the last year attended by more than 1,000 members and non-members at ten different venues, and with 19 guest speakers and various event sponsors, achieving solid year on year membership growth with numbers currently at an all-time high.

Katie Nicholson, now President, commented: “The Isle of Man Business Network has had a fantastic year testament to the commitment and dedication of our volunteer committee. In March we saw the return of our annual ‘Carnivale’ charity ball in association with Newfield supporting their chosen charity for 2019 – Alzheimer’s Isle of Man”.

“As an organisation we have continued to strengthen our relationships with local companies and key sponsors including ILS World, Barclays, Cannacord and Estera. Through the support of our growing membership we have raised over £5,000 for local charities”.

“We have partnered with the Department for Enterprise to bring key updates to the business community through events such as our ‘Brexit Breakfast’ and ‘Digital Isle of Man Blockchain Breakfast’. We regard these events as being key to our annual calendar to ensure our members are kept up to date with new initiatives and changes that will impact business”.

Incoming Chairman, Dearbhla Doyle, commented: “The Business Network is an organisation where individuals can grow in a professional capacity. Members benefit from learning events that refresh knowledge on national and international trends and change that affects business operations and can socialise to broaden their contact network in a safe, inclusive and diverse environment”.

“Our hard-working voluntary committee gave over 490 hours to support the events programme last year and with Annabel Heap, Tom Wilson, Jessica Cocker, Savannah Ingham and Tamiko Ross joining the committee this year, we’re on a positive footing to continue to produce quality events and experiences for members and guests, and see the Network develop partnerships with sponsors, co-hosts, educators, new and existing businesses, and be seen as the go-to networking platform for business relocators to integrate and form strong connections with the local business communities here”.

Alex Wilson, former Head of Marketing, and incoming Vice Chairman, added: “Since 2016, the programme of events has grown and diversified, offering something for everyone cross industries including your non-typical business event attendees, which is what we’re striving to achieve as a committee of volunteers – an open network where everyone is welcome to participate and take benefit. Initiatives including Team IOMBN, a CSR initiative whereby members can participate in charitable, community and sporting events through the Business Network, partnering with Locate.im to close the Isle of Man Graduate Fair with ‘Grad Talks’ and events marketing have helped improve the Network’s visibility locally and with a dedicated committee of volunteers, this year will be about continuing to grow our appeal and respond to members’ feedback so we continue to deliver an events programme that meets the local business community’s needs”.

 

Isle of Man Business Network has announced an informal networking event for students considering their options after university or college, or for those looking to further their career in the Isle of Man.

 

The event, which takes place at Eagle Labs on Victoria Street on Wednesday 17th April from 6.30pm, promises to take a refreshing and honest look at working life in the Isle of Man, drawing on first-hand experience within the Island’s diverse economy.

 

Attendees will hear from a panel of Isle of Man Business Network members who work across a variety of sectors and have returned or relocated to the Isle of Man after their studies. They will share stories of their careers, what brought them to the Island and shed light on the opportunities for career progression that they might not have experienced elsewhere.

 

Isle of Man Business Network delivers an annual calendar of events for people at all stages of their careers, and the committee are particularly passionate about highlighting the opportunities available to the younger workforce. This will be the first event delivered under the incoming chairman for the organisation, Dearbhla Doyle, who commented:

 

‘We know how daunting it can be when starting out in the world of work, with so many options available to you. Students might sometimes overlook opportunities ‘on their doorstep’ and not be aware of the breadth of new opportunities available in the Island’

 

‘One of the best things about living and working in the Isle of Man is that you can work in a truly global business centre for internationally recognised organisations, but it’s still relatively simple to network and make your mark within a community of likeminded professionals. By opening this invitation out to anyone with an interest in career progression, we hope to demonstrate that the Island can be a fantastic launch pad for your career.’

 

The panel session will be followed by a Q&A and informal networking session over pizza and drinks, giving attendees the opportunities to really get to grips with the benefits of basing their career in the Island.

 

Registration for the event is now available via Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/2u5h9Oh and the Isle of Man Business Network website.

 

The recently announced National Insurance holiday scheme provides for returning students and new residents to receive a refund of their National Insurance contributions in their first year of working in the Island. Recent statistics also revealed that there a good opportunities for career progression in the Island’s young workforce, with 1 in 3 workers aged 18 – 29 being promoted in the past year.

 

This event complements the Department for Enterprise’s Isle of Man Graduate Fair which also takes place on the 17th from 12pm – 6.30pm at Woodbourne House. The event is being delivered by the Department for Enterprise’s Locate Isle of Man programme, which seeks to promote the opportunities available in the Island for skilled workers. Registration for the graduate fair is also available via Eventbrite

 

On: 1 March 2019, from 7:00 for carriages at midnight

At: Woodbourne House, Woodbourne Road, Douglas

 

Alzheimer’s Society Isle of Man will benefit from a Carnivale-themed charity ball taking place next month in Douglas, thanks to the collaboration between two local organisations.

 

The third annual Isle of Man Business Network Ball in association with Newfield is being held at Woodbourne House on Friday 01 March, with all proceeds raised from the event being donated to support the work of the charity in our local community.

 

As well as a lavish ‘Carnivale’ theme designed to welcome in the Spring and banish those winter blues, guests will enjoy a pre-dinner drinks reception courtesy of SMP Partners, a three-course feast, charity raffle and silent auction, with entertainment from local party band, Switch. The event will be hosted by Pete Sutton of Barclays.

 

Manx international racing and sporting events company, Newfield, will provide headline sponsorship to the ball for the first time as part of its active local citizenship agenda and its commitment to invest back in to the local community. Established in 2011, Newfield employs more than 100 people on the Island, with colleagues having chosen Alzheimer’s Society Isle of Man as their Charity of the Year for 2019.

 

Based at Tower House in Douglas, the charity provides support for people to obtain a diagnosis of dementia and, once confirmed, an intensive support programme for that individual, their main carers and their family through a support worker based at the Older Persons Mental Health Service. In addition, it provides:

 

  • CrISP (Carers Information and Support Programme), a course providing invaluable information about the disease, coping strategies and even legal help, as well as providing carers with a network of like-minded people who are experiencing the same thing as them
  • The Side by Side service, which provides patients with a volunteer to support them  
  • Singing for the Brain sessions, based in Port Erin, Ramsey and Douglas to stimulate the memory (plans are in place to re-establish this service in Peel)
  • A hospital-based Dementia Support Worker (at both Noble’s and Ramsey Cottage hospitals)
  • A community Dementia Support Worker to provide at home support

 

It is a stand-alone Manx charity, linked to the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society, and relies solely on voluntary funding to operate; it does not receive any financial grants from the Isle of Man Government.

 

Grahame Bell, Services Manager, said: “Alzheimer’s Society Isle of Man only exists thanks to the generosity of Manx residents supporting the work we do across the community, where we really do make a visible difference. In many ways, we really are a lifeline for a number of individuals and their carers who would otherwise feel very isolated. We’re incredibly grateful to Newfield, SMP Partners and the Isle of Man Business Network for collaborating for our benefit, and to those attending the Ball for their generous support.”

 

Katie Nicholson, Chair of the Isle of Man Business Network, commented: “We’re delighted to be working with Newfield for the first time as headline sponsor for our charity ball, and to be working with Alzheimer’s Society Isle of Man for the first time in a fundraising capacity. I’d also like to thank SMP Partners for their generosity in sponsoring the pre-event drinks reception which will enable more money to be donated to charity. Sadly, most of us will know someone who has been touched by dementia in some form and will understand what a devastating illness this is. The money raised through this event will make a valuable difference to patients and their families locally.”

 

Mark Reynolds, Director of Newfield, commented: “Newfield is a passionate supporter of local good causes, and we know that the charity is very close to the hearts of a number of our colleagues as well as making a significant difference to the people it helps. We have a really strong culture of teamwork across our company and place a real emphasis on having fun and forging strong social networks in the workplace, so what better way to raise money for our Charity of the Year than by combining a fantastic social event with a fundraiser? This promises to be a spectacular event not to be missed, and I’m delighted that such an exceptional charity will be reaping the benefits of this.”

 

Mark Denton, Managing Director of SMP Partners, concluded: “As a keen supporter of the Island’s community, we are always looking for opportunities to make a difference in the place we are proud to call home. Having a strong working relationship with Newfield, this sponsorship was a perfect fit for us and we’re pleased to be supporting this exciting event which will raise all-important funds for a very worthwhile cause. From the pre-dinner reception to the lavish three-course dinner and entertainment, the ball promises to be a wonderful evening for all who attend and we look forward to donning our black ties and ball gowns.”

 

Guests at a recent Isle of Man Business Network event may have expected to hear about the inner workings of life at one of the world’s leading hospitality brands when they signed up for its recent learning session with Lynn Day – Design Director for Starbucks in the EMEA region – but instead were treated to a fascinating insight in to her career and her passion for empowering females in the workplace.

 

For the majority of its learning events, the Isle of Man Business Network uses the expertise of local speakers, but every so often it invites guests from off-Island, such as Lynn, to come and address its members. She spoke with real self-depricating humour to a sell-out crowd at The Claremont Hotel about her journey through what she describes as a ‘difficult and harsh’ industry to work in, as well as her much coveted role at Starbucks and how she reinvented her career in her early 50s.

 

Genuinely, we’d say she really is living her best life!

 

So, how did a young girl from Yorkshire find herself in the bright lights of London at the age of 21 in the recession-hit early 80s?

 

Quite simply, she followed her then boyfriend, and took a part-time job working in the Food Hall at Harrods where she described meeting some incredible characters, and rapidly building her confidence in dealing with the public. Not long after, she applied for an entry-level in-house design role with the household Conran brand and, thanks to standing out because of her very neat handwriting learnt at Art College, was picked from more than 100 applicants and offered her dream job designing store interiors including Debenhams, Habitat and Richards.

 

It probably seems alien to most reading this article that job applications were done by hand, graphic design images were sketched using pencils and rulers and starting salaries were £5,000, but thanks to a series of fascinating photos and stories, Lynn took guests all the way through her career in words and pictures from working for Conran, designing exquisite carpets for palaces in the Middle East, running campaigns for Marlboro and designing for Selfridges on Oxford Street in London, Harrods in Heathrow T5 and M&S in Westfield – amongst many others – all the way through to today and launching Starbucks sites at some of the most iconic places in the world where life ‘never stands still’ and each store is individually designed to be as personal to the location as possible.

 

One thing the audience really appreciated was Lynn’s honesty around her struggles as a working mum, and her personal opinion that women should try wherever possible to stay in the job market after having children to maintain their confidence and reduce the barrier that exists when women – as well as men – try to re-enter the workplace. She also had a very clear message for employers having a moral duty to look after their staff; investing in your people will not only prove good business sense long-term, but will increase their loyalty no-end

We do have a voice in the UK and they are listening to us’ – the message that came from Isle of Man Government officials at the recent Brexit update breakfast held in conjunction with the Isle of Man Business Network.

 

More than one hundred members of the Island’s business community attended the event at the Sefton Hotel featuring a panel of experts including Della Fletcher (Director of External Relations, Cabinet Office), Carl Hawker (Deputy Chief Executive, Department for Enterprise) and Sandra Skuszka (Collector of Customs and Excise, Treasury), and moderated by Dan Davies (Interim Chief Executive, Department of Home Affairs).

 

Nearly six months on from a similar panel discussion at the Islexpo conference, Government revealed there is now much more focus on specific detail and has published a comprehensive series of Technical Notices which look at how different Brexit scenarios may impact local businesses and industry sectors.

 

The panel collectively agreed in the need to ensure the Island is most effectively positioned in a number of critical areas moving forward, and can do this more robustly when the impact on the UK is known. They also cited the need to plan for the worst case scenario of a ‘no deal’ Brexit on 29 March 2019 and ensure that our legislation ensures ‘business as usual’ as much as is possible.

 

Two key areas of concern that have been cited by local business owners include around resourcing, the impact on labour supply and access to skills, which recent revisions to the Locate.im strategy are designed to help, and around the supply of goods from the manufacturing and agriculture sectors in to the EU, and any resulting impact on future orders.

 

For further information on Brexit, please visit the Isle of Man Government’s Technical Notices at www.gov.im/Brexit. For further information on future Isle of Man Business Network events, please visit www.iombn.im.

That was the question posed by Bill Shimmins MHK who proposed the motion that ‘This house believes that due to the Island’s rapidly ageing population and historically low rate of unemployment, all restrictions on immigration and employment should immediately be lifted’ at the recent ILS World Panel Debate, the latest event delivered by the IOM Business Network.

 

He went on to outline that the Island has one of the worst dependency ratios in Europe, with the 2016 Census highlighting a marked decline in younger residents and yet an increase in older ones. In comparison, Jersey, a key offshore competitor, is growing its younger and economically active population at a staggering rate.

 

It’s his belief that the current Island demographic is unsustainable, with the best option being to grow the young demographic and secure sustainable growth by vastly improving the Island’s infrastructure with immediate action.

 

Mr Shimmins was supported in his proposal by Caren Pegg, Vice President of the IOM Chamber of Commerce and a Partner in the Dispute Resolution department at Appleby. Opposing the motion were Rob Callister, MHK for Onchan, and Michael Josem, an Island-based International PR and Marketing Consultant.

 

All four had the opportunity to put forward their arguments before taking part in a Q&A with delegates, summarising and then a vote from the room.

The lively debate provoked conversation around the Island’s image and a renewed need to re-examine Government policies for childcare and education, return to work schemes and incentives to create a compelling proposition for economically active families to consider the Isle of Man as a viable option.

 

In support of Mr Shimmins’ pointed argument to relax what proposers consider to be an overly rigid system, Caren Pegg shared powerful statistics and voiced the consensus of Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce, a shared opinion garnered from a members-only consultation conducted in November 2016.

 

Chamber consultation on work permits reported that over 50% of participating members felt the work permit system prevented Isle of Man businesses from effective recruitment. In addition:

  • 30% felt the system actively forced businesses to consider alternatives such as expansion off island
  • 75% of businesses experienced difficulty recruiting in the last 12 months due to a lack of applicants locally, and went as far as to say that we have a system which hinders economic growth.

Chamber’s feelings were later compounded by the 2016 Census results which confirmed their suspicion that the economically active proportion of our population is declining.

 

Since 2016, Government has acted on Chamber’s input and gone about reforming the system which, today, looks very different. However, the argument can be made that it still does not go far enough and further removal of restrictions can be made to help attract workers to the Isle of Man.

 

In February 2018, Government commissioned a discovery paper on meeting population challenges which forecasts population movement over the next 20 years based on net zero migration. If the current trend continues, the Isle of Man is set to decline from 84,000 residents in 2018 to 78,000 residents by 2026, with a significant increase in over 65s during the same period. Who is going to support the aging population?

 

Caren highlighted that this was not a trend particular to the Isle of Man; both immigration and unemployment are global concerns, further exacerbated by Brexit. Since June 2016, there has been a sharp decline in the number of migrant workers coming to the UK. As our nearest neighbour, the UK is the first port of call for recruiters but the talent pool is restricted and continues to contract, resulting in a hyper competitive labour market, wage inflation and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries.

 

She closed on the statement that Government needs to lead on bold, co-ordinated action across many policy fronts to curb this trend and introduced the notion of a temporary suspension of the current system as a trial to properly assess the effects of what the opposition referred to as a ‘free for all’.

 

Michael Josem, who referred to the proposer’s view as a ‘free for all’, tabled the concept of a merit-based system and argued that a controlled and measured way forward would benefit the Isle of Man economically, environmentally and socially, ensuring service continuity and the high living standards residents are accustomed to for healthcare, education, infrastructure, transport and amenities.

 

Migrants would be selected based on merit or humanitarian grounds, with tight controls on who comes into the country and the circumstances under which they relocate, thereby ensuring we maintain an economy based on high skills, staff and productivity, and maintain social equilibrium and a fair welfare system.

 

Looking inward, Michael highlighted Isle of Man birth rate statistics and reinforced the point we need to revisit child benefit, increasing support for education and growing the population domestically.

 

Somewhat startling figures on women’s propensity to have children, a view based on increasing pressure of economic challenges and compounded by a 3% fall in the median wage, highlighted the difficulties faced by married and cohabiting couples and the impact this has on starting a family, and that our focus as an Island should be on making the average Manx family richer rather than increasing the aggregate size. China’s economy is greater in size, but the average Chinese family is far worse off by comparison.

 

Supported by Michael, Rob Callister MHK reminded the room of the intended light-hearted nature of the debate, and that our powers as an independent Government to force change were limited by law.

 

The Isle of Man’s immigration policies take the same form as the UK under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1971, which guarantees that Crown Dependencies apply the same treatment to legal citizens of the EU. Of course, this changed on 23 June 2016 when the UK voted to leave the European Union.

 

Whilst the UK renegotiates agreements, the Isle of Man could, in theory, repeal the Act which enforces us to uphold the current system. However, with no primary legislation in place the UK would simply extend its powers, citing the Isle of Man had become an easy gateway into the UK for criminals and terrorists, and for the financing of criminal activity which would have serious implications relating to the common travel area as well as a negative economic effect, countering our exemplary approach to financial services legislation under the EU.

 

Mr Callister applauded the changes to the application process, and commented that it was right to continue this approach provided officers did not compromise the level of scrutiny, and the benefits of having a flexible system that protects residents from incoming competition. However, he noted that this did not address the underlying issue which is quite simply that people do not move to the Isle of Man for need of a work permit; instead they’re sold on the ideal based on their awareness of opportunities, Island life and financial benefits, and our destination marketing and management needs to be on par with Jersey and Guernsey, as well as our other closest competitors, to be in the running in the recruitment race.

 

The panel voiced four passionate, well-constructed points of view but it was up to the audience to vote for or against the motion. Following an audience Q&A, the room voted with Mr Shimmins and Caren Pegg for the suspension of the current system in a bid to attract foreign nationals to the Isle of Man.

 

Chief executive, Chris Eaton said: “ILS supports formal debates on the Isle of Man to provide a forum for discussion on the issues facing the Island. As people who live and work here we know we need to increase our economically-active population to ensure there are enough people to fuel the development of our local businesses and our economy.

 

“Producing a strategy to retain and attract graduates, address the growing skills shortages, the decline in birth rates and catering for the growing numbers in retirement is very complex and these are not issues confined to the Isle of Man. The debate was informative and both sides made strong arguments.

 

“The questions and comments from the floor showed there were strong opinions on the Motion and we must find some common ground between these two opposing opinions to urgently produce some innovative policy that will realistically address these problems .”

 

Katie Nicholson, Chair of the IOMBN, added: ‘This is the fifth ILS Debate that we’ve held now and, as ever, this topic proved to be both contentious yet engaging with our delegates. It really is one of the most important issues facing our Island now and it was fantastic to see so many people openly discussing what’s best for our future economic growth and prosperity. It’ll be interesting to see if the debate sparks any future changes to our work permit system.’

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) recently held an entertaining event celebrating ‘Home Grown Talent’; showcasing the people behind the local food and drink the Island loves. This was held on Monday 2nd October at Noa Bakehouse, in partnership with The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (“DEFA”).

 

The inspiration for the event came from the current ‘food revolution’ that the Island is experiencing, with a wealth of new local artisan food and drink producers on the scene, as well as an explosion of food and drink pop-ups across the Island. Isle of Man restaurants are also using local produce more than ever before, for example Rock Food Concepts have created a cocktail map of the Isle of Man, available at the Bath & Bottle Bar, with cocktails that showcase local Manx produce.

 

At the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival 2017 the Manx Produce Marquee, Manx Cookery Theatre and Outdoor Catering area were packed to the brim with local food talent. Andrew Lees (DEFA’s Food Business Development Manager), who compared the evening, told delegates that for the first time there was a waiting list for food producers and retailers wanting a space at the festival.

 

To tell delegates more about these exciting times, the IOMBN invited some of the Island’s local food producers together to share their stories, how their businesses came about, the challenges they have faced and the opportunities they have found on the Isle of Man for setting up a business.

 

The event had a fantastic speaker line up, hearing from Noa Bakehouse, Roots Bev Co, Foraging Vintners, Apple Orphanage, Paula’s Kitchen and the Noa Bakehouse Food Assembly.

 

Richard Smith, Chairman of the Isle of Man Business Network said, “It was really interesting to hear from our local food producers. So many of us enjoy the food and drink these producers create, so it was a great opportunity to hear their stories; how they saw a niche in the market, a problem to be fixed, and had the courage and the passion to go for it, helping to make the Isle of Man a better place to live in the process.”

 

He continued, “It was inspirational to hear why they felt that the Isle of Man was ideal for setting up their business; from the quality of our apples, our premier bees and our friendly retailers who support local business, to the Isle of Man Government who help our fledgling business get off the ground.”

 

Great soft skills event last night with our speaker, Bransom Bean, on how to work a room and get the best out of networking. Thanks again to Crowe Morgan for sponsoring this event. Download Bransom’s “How to work a room” presentation slides here.

 

Please also find more information about Bransom and Fine Focus Business Coaching here.

 

We wanted you to know that in the coming weeks Bransom Bean, who spoke to us this week on “How To Work A Room”, is giving free 45 minute seminars on a variety of topics.

 

The topics and Eventbrite links are:

 

For each one you can choose 0730, 1230 or 1730 on the respective day.